The new racing promoter has taken some steps in the right direction.
For example, I notice there has been an attempt to raise the value of claiming tags albeit only at the top end. A few races have been successfully offered for horses prepared to enter for claiming tags of $850,000.00 to $800,000.00 and another progressive step was made on Sunday, July 8, when a 1500 metres race was put on for claiming tags of $1,000,000.00 to $850,000.00 which attracted six entries, one-half of which entered for the million dollar tag.
This is one small step for horse racing. If SVREL wants to take a giant step it should peg the claiming tags to the US$ so as not to have to constantly tinker with J$ tags.
One step forward; another backward! Why? Races are now being offered for claiming tags as low as $100,000 – $120,000.00. This is regressive but, more importantly, doesn’t solve the problem of fewer entries and less competition. Some of these nags wouldn’t perform if their tag was zero. All that’s occurring here is the “Claiming” system is being further devalued to a “selling” system as dozens of claims are lodged for these bargain-basement giveaways.
As usual, we’re being penny-wise and pound foolish. What’s required is the capital investment to construct a turf track inside the present main dirt track. Many of you would be surprised to discover how many of the current racers who can’t get out of their own way in bottom-of-the-barrel claimers would suddenly blossom into decent campaigners switched to the turf.
I’ve written this before and I repeat. The objective of a proper claiming system is NOT to have horses claimed. It’s to have clean, competitive racing. Wistful purveyors of nostalgia, harkening back to glory days of handicapping/rating, have conveniently forgotten how easy that system was to manipulate for devious purposes by insiders with larceny in their hearts or handicappers with similar intent.
A Government with vision beyond its collective nose would’ve invited tenders for a license to construct a new facility (at a venue like the Trelawny multi-purpose stadium environs) to include a turf track and a supplementary entertainment complex. Twinned with proper incentivizing of the breeding industry to encourage stallion and mare imports especially from Europe and to allow for tax free imports of fillies and mares for racing purposes would have ensured a much needed infusion of quality bloodstock and a competition for product that could see the industry take off within a decade or so.
Instead, we prefer to stay inside a thirty year old box and tinker with facilities and product that have been failing for almost as long. Sigh.
This regular review of local performances is based on REAL times.
Abbreviations: CT = “Corrected Time”; TV = “Track Variant” (a calculation of the effect of track conditions on official times to arrive at “real” or “corrected” times); TVs are in fifths of a second; “minus” means a fast track; “plus” a slow track (e.g -2 means fast by 2/5ths of a second). Variants beside horse’s names represent the difference between its official time and the grade standard.
On June 14, I highlighted a key race about which I wrote “Uncle Taf; Bruce Wayne and Uncle Frank” with CTs of “(1:38.2’); (1:38.4) and (1:38.4) are also capable of winning at Open Allowance (standard 1:39.3) and should be very good things at Overnight Allowance (standard 1:39.4)”.
Uncle Frank (with the leading rider allowed to claim 2kg) and Bruce Wayne contested a 12 runner 1400m Overnight Allowance on June 30. Uncle Frank (7/2 odds) won with Bruce Wayne second (also 7/2). The Exacta returned $1,251.00 and the Quiniela $437.00!
Uncle Frank returned on Sunday, July 8, in Open Allowance company over 1600 metres, and won again, this time at 3/1 upsetting odds-on favourite, Marvellous Marva, who finished third. Pay, Pool, Pay!
Let’s see what’s happened since we last met:
June 30, 2018 [Derby Day; TV +0 (Rd); +1(str)]
HILLY’S HALO (-12) has come to hand with a vengeance (Race 10; 3yo Native Breds and Imported nw3/maidens; 1200m) clocking 1:10.4 while slaughtering a competitive looking field by 11 ½ lengths going away! That time is 3/5ths second faster than Grade 1 standard so she’s to be followed all the way to the top. The Invitational Mile on Superstakes Day is not beyond her and seems a feasible late season target.
LITTLE BIG HORN (-8) inexplicably dropped to the lowest claiming tag off an $800,000 claim (Race 2; $180,000 claimers; 1300m) duly made hacks of the “opposition” winning by 23 lengths in 1:21.2 which is 1/5th second faster than the standard for $450,000 claimers. He should be a cinch at up to $350,000. Ninety-one claims were submitted!
UPDATE: LITTLE BIG HORN was entered for a $550,000 tag over 1100m on July 7 and finished 3 ¼ lengths second to Lightning Lily which only confirms that he ought not to have been dropped so low on June 30.
Overseas Betting Opportunities (OBOs)
The Open Championship tees off at Scottish links course Carnoustie (known, for its Machiavellian difficulty, as “Carnasty”) on July 19. Four for the short list include two Americans (Rickie Fowler, who has been knocking at the Major door for years now and plays well on links courses, and Tony Finau, a child prodigy from a humble background whose determination to succeed and natural ability has seen him produce excellent results in Majors this year); and two from Europe namely English links specialist Tommy Fleetwood and the mercurial SERGIO GARCIA who returns to the scene of his heartbreaking play-off second to Padraig Harrington in the Open 2007.
Tony Finau (T10 in the Masters after a bad ankle sprain during the Wednesday Par 3 competition and 5th in the US Open on a diabolical course) is a much better player on links-type courses and should go very close but Sergio is much more mature these day and shook the Major monkey off his back at Augusta in 2017. He has recently returned to a conventional putting grip and is putting better than ever so expect him not to be satisfied with a single Major. It’s SERGIO GARCIA for me at “Carnasty”!
Tomorrow’s English racing includes another big Class 2 handicap, the Bunbury Cup, to be run at Newmarket (1340 GMT; 7.40 a.m. Jamaica Time). I’m very sweet on GILGAMESH who was my bet of the season for Royal Ascot’s Hunt Cup. For some unfathomable reason, connections elected to run in the Wokingham Stakes instead (6 furlongs) and this proved his undoing. Now back up to 7 furlongs in the Bunbury Cup, he should be a banker bet.
Finally, a notebook horse on the flat for English racing fans:
ZEYZOUN [4yo b.g. Excelebration – Zayanida (King’s Best)] is a half-brother to several winners, including the smart pair Ziyarid and Zayva, both trained by Alain de Royer-Dupre. ZEYOUN started off with the same yard, and won a seven-furlong maiden at Clairefontaine in October before being bought by Michael Bringloe for €85,000 and transferred to Chris Wall. He made an encouraging British debut eight months later finishing a good fourth on handicap debut off a mark of 79 at Leicester on June 4 (0-80; 7f; Going good), going with enthusiasm in a first-time hood. The three that finished in front of him were all benefitting from a drop in the weights, and the race was a well-run contest so the form has a solid look to it. ZEYZOUN was headstrong in France, too, but is still relatively unexposed with potential to do even better at seven furlongs or shorter. He can win a similar event.